Facts & Specificity
I was watching the movie Transformers last night with my wife, occasionally rattling off the names of the various aircraft that show up – A-10 Warthog, F-22 Raptor, MH-53 Pave Low…. and on and on. She asked me how I knew all these names and I explained it was the result of growing up with a father who played flight simulator & war games (OK, I played them too).
As we watched the movie, I decided to read up on these aircraft on Wikipedia, since my knowledge was very superficial. As I skimmed through a few articles I began to get really frustrated and realized why there’s people bitching about how the openness of Wikipedia isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Here’s an example from the entry on the F-22 Raptor (emphasis added):
The opportunity for export is currently non-existent because the export sale of the F-22 is barred by American federal law. Most current customers for U.S. fighters are either acquiring earlier designs like the F-15 or F-16, or else are waiting to acquire the F-35, which contains technology from the F-22 but is designed to be cheaper and more flexible.
Currently? Current to what? Granted, this entry is probably not the best since the subject of the entry is still fairly new, but at what point in the future will someone decide to update the wording to reflect events that have transpired?
While you can see when an entry was last updated, is that the best way to check on relevance and accuracy? My friend Bryan suggests setting an entry as closed after it is completed and that not be editable until a certain point in the future. While Wikipedia has explicitly policies and guidelines – the website is open and thus, errors will show up. Given the amount of entries, not all errors are going to be found in a timely manner.
Keep this in mind if you’re a teacher, student, or just someone reading up on aircraft you saw in the Transformers movie.